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Death of a Salesman

grave markerRobin Williams was a real salesman. As an actor he convinced us to feel what the characters he portrayed were feeling. As a comedian, his facial expressions, voices, dialects, accents and insanely funny interpretations of ordinary things were delivery genius. I checked on the word “salesman” in the online Free Dictionary by Farlex. One of the definitions was, “one who sells goods, services, etc.” As I said, Robin was a real salesman. He sold us laughter.

We laughed at him in the TV series Mork and Mindy (’78-’82), Mrs. Doub­­tfire, and Aladdin; agonized with him in such films as Awakenings, and perhaps felt his personal loneliness in Good Will Hunting. We’ll always remember his iconic radio sign-on as the disc jockey in Good Morning Viet Nam. These and other film roles, as well as public comedy appearances endeared him to the hearts of many Americans and many others around the globe.

Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.

However, despite his versatility and success as an actor, and his amazing comedic wizardry, Williams suffered from depression throughout his life, and also struggled with drug and alcohol addictions. Though he was gifted to make others laugh and outwardly laughed with them, there was little laughter on the inside; little internal joy to offset the dark shadow which hung over him most of his life. On August 11, 2014, Williams was found dead, after committing suicide by hanging, at his home in Paradise Cay, near Tiburon, California.

People can surmise as to why a man, who by most reports was a kind and sensitive human being, who seemed so intent on bringing laughter to others, would make the selfish decision to end the struggles of his personal life in such a grotesque way? Why not just take sleeping pills or some other quick acting drug? Why leave this horrible picture for his family and friends to grapple with? Was it to shock the sensibilities of the world so that they would take notice of those who are in such chronic depression as his life record seems to indicate? Or was it something else? In an earlier interview with Diane Sawyer, Robin said that through his life there was a voice that would pop into his head telling him to “jump”, “kill youself”. This time he listened to the voice.

What kinds of things unchained the “black dog”, as Winston Churchill used to call his own bouts with depression? Was it the pains of the world that Williams took on, or his own personal pains, disappointments, rejections, discouragements; or was it the exhaustion of human energy in his fight to survive? We do know that he had a short time ago received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

Someone reported that Williams was a member of a Christian church. I wonder, had he heard in his church about the One who was called “man of sorrows”; the man who came to reveal to us the heart of God – to flesh-out our heavenly Father’s love for us?

This man, Jesus, also died a grotesque death – not at his own hands, but at the hands of those he came to save. He didn’t take his own life, but he did say, “I lay it down” (John 10:18). According to the Gospel of John, Jesus came to save us – the lost (Luke 19:10). To save us from what? From sin, from Satan, and from ourselves – our attitudes, our dilemmas, our perplexities, and concerns. He’s the one who said,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30

I realize that there are Christians who suffer from depression; most often it is related to something specific: abuses, losses (the death of a loved one, loss of health or youth or a job) a divorce, other disappointments or discouragements. Some people get depressed out of discontentment with where life has dropped them with seemingly no way out. Others develop depression out of an unforgiving spirit and ensuing anger.

I’ve never heard of a baby being born with depression, though it can develop early on in life. From my personal observations of acquaintances who are currently or have been in depression, most have arrived there because of life trauma – sometimes a personal sin. I don’t believe that “mental illness” is an adequate explanation of depression, without tracking down the route the depressed person has traveled along the way to depression.  There are causes – often multiple causes. You can medicate the symptoms – but you can’t cure depression with medicine. However, I firmly believe it can be cured.

We are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual beings – all in one. That’s why we are taught in Scripture (Deut. 6:4-5, Mark 12:29-30) to love the Lord our God with our heart (emotional), soul (spiritual), mind (mental) and strength (physical). As we surrender our whole being to Christ and take proper care of those four parts of our human self, it will affect our state of mind.

If anyone had reason to be depressed by life circumstances, it was Jesus. He was poor all of His life. His life purpose precluded marriage. He was often hungry and tired. He wept, he got angry – He had emotions. He was misunderstood and accused of having demons. The crowds that applauded Him later turned away. He was betrayed by a “friend”. His closest followers abandoned Him in His greatest time of need. He suffered an unjust death of humiliation on a public cross. Yet, while hanging on the cross He asked the Father to forgive His enemies – He didn’t hold grudges, didn’t pledge vengeance.

Don’t think it was easier for Jesus because He was God’s Son: Heb. 4:15 says

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Though Jesus experienced human suffering, He was a joyful man – little children loved being around Him.

What a salesman Jesus was! His life convinces us to live as He did. His death paid the price for healing in every area of our lives. And His resurrection guarantees delivery on the product. He offers us a gift greater than laughter – He has promised us joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

When we surrender to the presence of His Spirit within us, we find the ability to walk in that joy in spite of our life circumstances.

The Scriptures lay out a plan for a achieving and maintaining a healthy mind:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:4-8


©2014, Marcy Alves


Spiders of My Mind

garden spiderOne morning recently I walked into our kitchen and noticed a large coffee cup turned upside down on the floor with a sticky note on top on which was printed in large letters “SPIDER”.  It was left there by a friend who lives with us and leaves for work before my normal rising time.

The day before the cup discovery I had been working in the yard pulling weeds near our tool and tractor shed, and had spotted a rather fierce looking large black and yellow spider. That image was impressed on my brain, and the memory turned on a caution light as I considered what kind of spider might be under the cup.

I’m not generally a fearful person, but there are certain things I’d rather avoid, most of which start with the letter “s” – like snakes, scorpions, Satan, sin, scary movies, sewage, stinkbugs, sinkholes, and yes, spiders.

I am not afraid of most house spiders, especially the little ones that trap fruit-flies or other small bugs that trouble my house plants. But not being able to see what was under the cup caused my imagination to disable my stand-and-fight apparatus; I resorted to my “defer-to-brave-husband mode”.

I buzzed David on the intercom (his office is in our walk-in basement) and asked if he had seen the cup with the spider note on it. He said “Yes” and asked if I had taken care of it. I responded “No” and he said he would take care of it after breakfast, which only prolonged the suspense.

I don’t recall how many steps I took around that spider-trap cup that morning in order to prepare our toasted muffin breakfast, but I know I was very careful to avoid accidentally kicking it with my foot. I didn’t know the size of the spider, how fast it could move, if it was a jumping spider, or if it was poisonous. It’s interesting how imagination can work overtime when there are unknown factors involved.

Many of our worry and anxiety concerns are like the spider under the cup. We often imagine things to be much worse than they really are; the uncertainty of the size or the potential danger of our foe causes our fright-and-flight mechanism to kick in. We are often afraid of the unknown. Many of our decisions are based on that fear.

Yet the Scriptures – Old Testament as well as New Testament – tell us not to fear.

In Mark chapter 4:38-40, Jesus was in a boat with his disciples when a bad storm came up. The disciples panicked and waking Jesus said to him:

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” . . . He said to [the disciples], “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

We often connect the current circumstance with something from our past that caused us pain, or grief, or worry, or shame and we view the new event in light of the old one – particularly when we don’t have all the information.

Old resentments, old hurts, betrayals, disappointments, losses, painful moments can cause a knee-jerk reaction of fear, insecurity, doubt,  orconfusion; then we over-react to what we think we are facing in the present moment.

There are three things we need to do to conquer unreasonable fear, anxiety, and distress of spirit:

Let Go of the Past

“ . . .  one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus . . . let us hold true to what we have attained.” Phil. 3:13-16

Get a New Perspective

Phil 4:6-7 “. . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Practice the Presence of God

 Is. 41:10 “. . . fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Now, about the spider under the cup: I later saw the suspect cup on the counter by the sink. I was not present when my husband lifted it to see how large the eight-legged creature was, or to watch it fry on my husband’s handy “bug-zapper”.

When I later asked David what kind of spider was under the cup, he said there was nothing under the cup. We figured that the spider was so small it had probably crawled out by means of the slight indentation in the pattern of the linoleum .

Oh, and the large yellow and black spider by the shed? I looked it up on-line. For all its ferocious look, it was a garden spider, totally harmless. Like a lot of our mental spiders – harmless except for the power we give them to make us afraid. It’s time to get rid of the spiders of our minds.

©2013, Marcy Alves

Dealing with Fear

What are you afraid of?  How do you handle fear? It you didn’t have enough of your own worrying-issues to deal with, there are plenty troubling things going on around the world and here in the U.S.

The past week’s headline news paints a disturbing picture:

  • Fires and looting in London creating fear and mayhem
  • Iran (sworn enemy of the US and Israel) developing a nuclear bomb
  • Thirty soldiers killed in a helicopter shoot-down
  • Shock waves from a roller-coaster stock market (is a tsunamis coming?)
  • A drop in financial “ratings” for US, France, Germany and others
  • Continuing starvation in Somalia
  • Massive joblessness in the US
  • Tight-fistedness in the banking industry in spite of government bailout
  • Gridlock in the US Congress regarding debt ceiling and budget balancing
  • US foreclosure prediction, 1 in 3 homes by 2012
  • Massive flooding, then drought across our nation’s south and mid-west
  • Predictions of permanent deserts ahead in current U.S. drought areas

The fear network is alive and well on planet earth. And the enemy of our souls would like to keep us in a constant state of panic and anxiety, to drive us away from the shelter of our Heavenly Father’s arms, to damage our faith-walk with God, to destroy our peace.

While we can’t ignore the catastrophic events in the US and around the world, we have many encouraging words from a higher authority when it comes to dealing with fear.

49 times in the Old Testament and 17  in the New Testament we are told not to fear.

 Is. 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

There are things about fear that we learn from Scripture:

Fear is not from God

2 Tim. 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;

We are not to fear as the world does

1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.

Love combats fear

1 John. 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

A significant passage in Mark reveals a scene in which Jesus and the disciples are facing a serious storm on the lake:

Mark 4:35-41:  As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

After Jesus spoke to the wind, he spoke to his disciples: vs. 40 “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

What is Jesus saying?

Faith and Fear are mutually exclusive.   So, how do we go from fear to faith? Here are five steps that I have found are successful combatants to fear:

1.  Pray about it

 Phil. 4:6-7. 6 Do not be anxious [fearful] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have yet to discover the power of believing prayer. ABC news a few nights ago shared the story of a young boy attending a beach party with his church who was swept out on a rip tide and could not get back to shore. He was underwater for 15 minutes before divers located him and brought him in to shore. He showed no vital signs. However, the moment he got in trouble with the waves, church members had dropped to their knees and began to pray.  The boy was resuscitated and put on life support; he gained consciousness a short time later with no apparent permanent damage.

2.  Turn your fearful thoughts over to Christ and rebuke fear.

 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Fear is defined in 2 Timothy 1:7 as a spirit. Admit to God that you are up against fear, and in the authority of the Holy Spirit, rebuke that fear. Then ask the Lord to remove those thoughts that gave fear an in-road into your mind and emotions.

3.  Change mental subjects – think about good things

Phil. 4:8-9   8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

When we were kids we used to sit out on our porch in the dark of a summer night and tell ghost stories – the scarier the better. But walking alone to the outhouse in the dark after such sessions was terrifying; something fearful lurked in every shadow. We had set ourselves up for fear to take over our thoughts. I did not know as a child how to combat fear with faith.

4.  Get God’s word in you and believe it – memorize Scriptures that counteract fear and speak them out.

 5.  Rely on the character of your heavenly Father. And remember:

  • God is good
  • God is love
  • God loves you
  • There is nothing too big for Him to handle
  • He is the One who says, “Fear not for I am with you. . .”

So, how do you handle fear? Which of the five actions above do you most need to apply?

What, Me Worry? Or Why Pray When You Can Worry? – Pt. 3

Part 3 of 3

How do you keep God’s peace in your life in those times when your human nature tells you that you need to worry? Everything seems to be falling apart around you? Someone you love is dying? You’ve been jobless for months and the bills are mounting with no reserve? Your dinner burned because of an unexpected protracted phone call from a high pressure collection agency? Your new puppy just chewed your new pair of shoes? You daughter just joined the National Guard.

Here are some practical suggestions that really work:

      1.  Learn to function from a base of trust in God

Isa. 26:3   “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on you, because he trusts in you.”

If you’ve read my blog series on “Real Faith”, you know that you can’t have faith unless you trust God.

I recently was visiting in the local hospital with the mother of a very sick young woman and spoke with a nurse (a believer) who is a friend of that family. I asked her if she saw many miracles on the surgical wing of the hospital where she works. The nurse, who is from Liberia, said: “No. What I see here in the US is that people put much more faith in the doctors than they do in God. So, they don’t see many miracles.”

We’ve got to choose to put our trust in the One who has credentials that surpass any specialized, educated, experienced, highly respected medical professional; the One who is responsible for providing the earth with the “stuff” out of which all medical treatments are derived.

      2.  ”Turn negative, peace disrupting thoughts over to God

2Cor. 10:4-5   The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Once my husband, David, and I were house-sitting for some friends who owned a bed & breakfast, horse ranch.  Our first day there I looked out the window and saw the horses on the front lawn instead of in the corral where they belonged.  We went outside and tried unsuccessfully to chase them into the fenced-in area.  Then my husband got a bright  idea.  He went into the barn and returned with a bucket of feed and a rope.  One by one he approached the horses with the bucket; as they lowered their heads to eat the grain, David slipped the rope around their necks, one at a time, and led each one back to the corral.  This is a good picture to keep in mind when thinking of what it means to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.  Picture each thought as a run-away horse being lead by a rope to Jesus – hand the rope over into His able hands.

      3.  Learn to turn to God in prayer on a regular basis,

Phil. 4:6   Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

How’s your prayer life? It’s interesting how we are often prone to talk to everyone else about our problems and needs, but not to the One who can do something about them.

There once was a woman who wrote to me that her mother had a certain mental condition, which tendency can be genetically transmitted to offspring. She and her brother were worried that they might develop the same condition. I shared the Philippians passage with her and it gave her great encouragement. God has promised that when we “present our requests” to Him – with thanksgiving, He will guard our “minds”. Awesome!

      4.  Practice the presence of God.

Alexander MacClaren once said, “Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.”  More Gathered Gold, pg. 219

An elderly Christian was asked by some young believers what his secret of tranquility was.  They asked him, “Don’t the temptations [to worry] that bother us come knocking at the door of your heart anymore?”  He answered:  “The temptations that trouble you do come knocking, but I answer:  ‘The place is already occupied.’”

We need to learn to  trust in God and remain in constant communication with Him so that we know that we are not alone in our situation.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago I came home a little numbed by the experience. I was not distraught or fearful or totally overwhelmed. I was puzzled about the reason for it. I don’t believe any experience we have in this life, good or bad, is a wasted experience.

When we returned home from the hospital after that diagnosis I retreated to my favorite prayer spot and entered the presence of my heavenly Father. There was such peace there. I presented my questions to my Lord: “How? Why? What now?”. He gave me several words – which have sustained me for these three years: 1. “This experience is not just for you – I will use it in others’ lives.” 2. “Don’t be afraid.” 3. “Wait on me.” 4. “Trust me.”

I can only rest in those words from God by practicing His presence daily. And when negative, peace disruptive things come into my life – in self-defense, I run into the protection of His arms, and put my trust in Him, who is still on His throne.

May our Father bless you and take you out of a place of worry into the place of peace, as He leads you beside still waters and restores your soul.

©2011, Marcy Alves

What, Me Worry? Or Why Pray, When You Can Worry? – Pt. 2

Part 2 of 3

Click here to read Part 1

Several years ago a friend shared with us that his photography business had just lost a significant account. My husband expressed his concern with something like, “I’m so sorry. Will you be okay?” To which our friend replied, “David, it’s just money.”

It would be good if more of us would have that attitude towards our financial losses or lack of desired supply.

Many of the things we worry about involve money:  jobs, bills, children’s education, caring for elderly parents, etc.  Money problems are common to us all.  Everyone has money problems – rich and poor.  You either don’t have enough, or you try to protect what you have, or you don’t know what to do with what you have. Jesus gives us some needful instruction regarding this time consuming and mentally troubling topic.

Matt. 6:24-34   “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.   25  “Therefore,   [when you see a ‘therefore’ find out what it’s there for] I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?   26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?   27 Who of you by worrying  can add a single hour to his life?  28  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.   29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.   30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?   31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’   32 For the pagans run after all these things, [the Jews to whom Christ was talking understood pagans to be those who followed false gods] and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.   34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (italics and emphasis ,mine)

Worrying about financial things is like serving another god – Mammon.  Jesus said it, I’m only quoting it:  “You cannot serve both God and Money.   Therefore  I tell you, do not worry about your life, . . .”  What we are subtly saying by our worry is, “God can’t be trusted with the details of my life.  Things happen in my life that are out of God’s control — my circumstances are bigger than He is.”

Like many people today, my husband and I often have more bills than money at the end of the month.  One winter day some time ago, we received a particularly large electric bill.  (At that time we were living in a house that used electric heat .) I knew that I should leave the bill for my husband to open,  but I wanted to see how much our energy conserving methods had saved us that month.  When I opened the bill it was much larger than expected and I began to panic.  “God, where are you?” I cried.  “How are we going to pay this bill?”  And I began to spiral into depression within minutes.

It was then the Lord asked me, “Marcy, how did you feel 5 minutes ago?”  “I felt fine,” I answered him with an accusing edge in my voice.  Then He said to me, “Go back to five minutes ago.  I haven’t changed since then.”

What happened?  I got my eyes on my inability and off of God’s ability.   That’s where worry starts.  We forget we have a heavenly Father who loves us and is able to care for us.

Said the robin to the sparrow,  “I would really like to know,

Why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.”

Said the sparrow to the robin, “I think that it must be,

They have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.  (unknown)

How do we keep God’s peace in our lives in those times when our human nature tells us we need to worry?  Next installment we’ll look at some practical suggestions that really work.

In the meantime, consider this: is all your worrying making a difference? Do you know that there is a Heavenly Father who cares for you? Or have you just forgotten?

©2011, Marcy Alves

What, Me Worry? Or Why Pray, When You Can Worry? – Pt.1

Part 1 of 3

As Mad Magazine’s  freckle-faced,  elephant-eared, toothy smiled Alfred E. Newman used to say: “What, me worry?” This sentiment should be the watchword of Christians today, but all too often our lives proclaim, “Why pray, when you can worry?”  For many Christians worry is a bothersome, but normal part of living on terra firma.  After all, who doesn’t worry about bills, health, kids or taxes now and then?

I heard about a woman who worried from sun-up to sun-down.  She worried about the weather, how to pay for college (for her 1 and 3 year olds), what to have for Christmas dinner (this began just after Labor Day) and who her husband would marry if she died before he did.  One day she popped in at her neighbor’s house for a cup of coffee and the normal worry lines were nowhere to be seen.  Her mystified friend asked her wasn’t she concerned that it might (or might not) rain that day.  The woman replied that she had no longer any need to worry.  Her friend asked what brought about this state of grace and the perpetual worrier explained that her dear husband had hired someone to worry for her.  The hired man worried about the house, the grocery bill, the Christmas dinner, college for the kids, etc.

“If he does all that worrying, you must have to pay him a lot,” her neighbor ventured.

“Yes, about forty-thousand dollars a year,”  the converted worrier answered.

“Well!” exclaimed her friend.  “How in the world are you going to pay for that?!”

Smiling sweetly, the former worrier sipped her coffee, took a second Danish and said, “That’s his worry.”

Most of us can’t afford to hire someone to worry for us.  So we do it for ourselves. And for some of us, it’s a fulltime job.

The majority of our worries are about things over which we have no control.  One man charted his worries and discovered that 40% of them were about things that never happened; 30% were about past decisions that he couldn’t unmake, 12% dealt with other people’s criticisms of him; and 10% were worries about his health.  He concluded that only 8% were really legitimate.

How much of your worries are “legitimate”?  If you were asked to chart what you worried about one year, or six months, or even a month ago today?  Could you even remember what it was?

The word “worry” is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle or to choke”. It reminds us of what Jesus said in Mark 4:18-19 about some who hear the word, but. . . “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  Worry makes God’s word unfruitful in your life; it literally strangles the word.

Vance Havner said, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”

Besides using up lots of time and energy in an unproductive manner, worry produces many adverse effects.

First, worry affects you physically:  worry is a physical stress which, among other things, breaks down resistance to disease, interferes with restful sleep, diseases the nervous system, promotes hair loss in men and in women, and raises cholesterol levels in the blood.

The Bible tells us in  Ps. 31:9-10 some things stress (for instance, worry) does to the body:  “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.   10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”

Second, worry, affects you emotionally:  Prov. 12:25   An anxious heart weighs a man down, . . .”  Worry makes your spirit feel heavy hearted.

Third,  worry affects you spiritually:  It is sin.  Phil. 4:6 says,   “Do not be anxious about anything . . .”   These words are in the imperative; it’s a command.  The Scripture does not say, “If you can, don’t be anxious”,  or “Don’t be anxious, unless you can’t help it”.

One woman excused her sin by saying, “It must help to worry, because the things I worry about never happen.”

Worry and faith are mutually exclusive.  When you are worrying, you are not trusting God.  When you are trusting God, you are not worrying.

There’s more to come on this topic in future blogs. But in the meantime, think about the things you tend to worry about. Has worry solved any of them for you?


©2011, Marcy Alves

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